Friday, April 25, 2014

A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander (A Belmont Mansion Novel)

This is it folks! My review of A Beauty So Rare, and a few more extras. :)
Check the bottom of my post for more free fun things!

Belmont Mansion is not too far from me, and I have been there before. That peaked my interest to start with, that and the quality of books I have read so far from Tamera Alexander. Belmont and Nashville are the setting of this book. Belmont was owned and run by Adelicia Hayes Franklin Acklen Cheatham, and in this book she is Elanor Braddock's Aunt. Eleanor is extremely tall for a woman, well past her "prime" at the age of  thirty, and she feels she lacks the standard of beauty that other women have. Thus she as resigned herself to never being married. Instead Eleanor has dreams of other endeavors. Summing all the bravery required she presents her plans, which entail some needs for financing, to her Aunt Adelicia. I find Elanor's response from a Lady who is rich and in powerful positions, to be a strong one. This was the first quote in this book that really got my attention.

"Aunt Adelicia blinked. Several times. "You... want to cook?"

While this isn't a quote anyone else has yet chosen from this book, it was significant to me because it is a pivotal point. This is the point in our lives where we announce something that is burning in our heart, and when spoken out-loud to people in a position to help, harm, or influence us we bear the brunt of their reaction. Reaction is often shock, disbelief, out right scorn, or in some cases rejecting laughter. None-the-less, Aunt Adelicia's reaction did not stop Eleanor. Instead, it forges Eleanor forward regardless of it being beneath and outside of her preset role in life as the relative of THE Lady Adelcia of Belmont Mansion.

Soon she has done something very out of character for a person of her position. She is thinking through one of her heart's desires, cooking, and she has rented a building in the lower income area! She plans to follow the dreams of her heart and is determined to find a way to do so. Much to her discomfort, Marcus, the man she assumes is an under-gardener in her Aunt's Conservatory has rather stumbled into her plans, and her life.

Hiding his true identity from Eleanor, Marcus is working to hybridize potatoes, but before long, these two are going to find they have some goals that they could work together towards, or tear each other apart with. Marcus's secret is deep, and even his very identity is hidden. Eleanor is hiding secretes as well. As much as they try to not be interested in each other, they find themselves in a growing relationship. But secrets, as we know, come out and these two will either find and follow God's plan for their lives and those around them, or have a large disastrous outcome.

I was asked if I were able to send one sentence on a post card to one character in this book what would it be? My answer is this:

Dear Adelicia,

It is truly a gift to see a beauty most rare, in all it's hidden and undeveloped forms, which is so very visible when seen through the eyes of the One who created us in His image.

Carol E. Keen

This is the heart of this book, if you ask me, and a book worthy of reading.

Carol :)

About The Book:

Pink is not what Eleanor Braddock ordered, but maybe it would soften the tempered steel of a woman who came through a war--and still had one to fight.

Plain, practical Eleanor Braddock knows she will never marry, but with a dying soldier's last whisper, she believes her life can still have meaning and determines to find his widow. Impoverished and struggling to care for her ailing father, Eleanor arrives at Belmont Mansion, home of her aunt, Adelicia Acklen, the richest woman in America--and possibly the most demanding, as well. Adelicia insists on finding her niece a husband, but a simple act of kindness leads Eleanor down a far different path--building a home for destitute widows and fatherless children from the Civil War. While Eleanor knows her own heart, she also knows her aunt will never approve of this endeavor.

Archduke Marcus Gottfried has come to Nashville from Austria in search of a life he determines, instead of one determined for him. Hiding his royal heritage, Marcus longs to combine his passion for nature with his expertise in architecture, but his plans to incorporate natural beauty into the design of the widows' and children's home run contrary to Eleanor's wishes. As work on the home draws them closer together, Marcus and Eleanor find common ground--and a love neither of them expects. But Marcus is not the man Adelicia has chosen for Eleanor, and even if he were, someone who knows his secrets is about to reveal them all.

From USA Today bestselling author Tamera Alexander comes a moving historical novel about a bold young woman drawn to a group of people forgotten by Nashville society--and to the one man with whom she has no business falling in love.

Tamera Alexander

Tamera Alexander

Tamera Alexander is a bestselling novelist whose works have been awarded or nominated for numerous honors, including the Christy Award, the RITA Award, and the Carol Award. After seventeen years in Colorado, Tamera and her husband have returned to their native South...
Continue reading about Tamera Alexander

Another great page filled with fun things!

Next, there is a Scavenger hunt in progress:

Link to the mansion with photos:

I wish to send special thanks to Amy Green - Bethany House Publishers for my copy of this book in exchange for my review, and to Tamera Alexander for her work, and the opportunity to be in such an amazing blogging group. I have greatly enjoyed this experience! 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Numb by John W. Otte

Numb is a very interesting book!

When I started it I felt lost as though I started in the middle of a program, but soon I was deep inside another world. This book starts out with space ships, and on a space station.  The "Ministry" called the Ministrix has hired hit men who take out targets that are against the Ministrix and God's will. Crusader is one of these men. He has an electronic parrot on his shoulder that helps him in his missions.

Crusader is the best man in his field. He fulfills missions and moves on to the next mission. Numb inside, and rather numb physically as well, in today's terms we might call him a sociopath. Thus, Crusader was just going after his target, when instead of not feeling, he thought he was getting sick! Before he could take out his target, another Ministrixs hit man attacks him! Dispatching that issue rather quickly, Crusader has another problem.

Logically, Crusdaer figures he is doing the right thing, and he works out of obedience to what he believes is correct. The Praesidum runs on a Tolerance Law which is anything but tolerant! This group has outlawed Christianity and for now, they are at peace with the Ministrix. Ministrixs is religious. Notice I didn't say they are following Christ, they are full of rules and a good deal of un-forgiveness.

Why should taking out Isolda Westin be any different than any other assignment? She nothing but a lowly engineer and he has been commanded to not just kill her, but to do so in public! However, something is bad wrong. The harder Crusader tires, the most he starts to see that he freezes up, he breaks down, he FEELS things when he tries to even plan out the kill. Isolda is a for real follower of Christ, and she escapes with Crusader in hot pursuit. To make matters worse, Isolda has so shaken Crusaders's life that he has to keep her alive, at least for now, if he is ever going to find out what is wrong with him. If he can't figure that out, he sure can't keep working his job because this is messing up his formerly perfectly easy job, and we haven't even gotten to the Catacombs yet!

This book is non-stop adventure and deep thinking about what is truth, and what is a lie. I really enjoyed this and I can't wait for the next books to come out!

Carol :)

Save the girl...or his soul?

Crusader is numb. He feels neither emotion nor pain, a divine gift that allows him to be the Ministrix's best assassin. Whether it's heretics from within or heathen from without, Crusader is the sword in the True Church's hand. And if he remains obedient to his superiors, he will be able to let go of his guilt.
But then he's ordered to kill Isolda Westin. It shouldn't be a problem. A target is a target. When Crusader sees Isolda's image, though, something strange happens. He experiences a moment of panic, a wave of emotions, the first he's felt in as long as he can remember.
In that moment, he realizes he can't fulfill his mission. He can't kill Isolda Westin, even if it means he'll be condemned as an enemy of the Ministrix.
Soon Crusader and Isolda are on the run. Will they be able to learn why the Ministrix wants Isolda dead? Or will they both face the harsh justice of the "True Church"?

John W. Otte is a Lutheran minister who graduated from Concordia University in St. Paul Minnesota, with a theatre major, and then from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. He currently lives in South St. Paul, Minnesota, with his wife and two sons. Find John online at

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. 

Numb - 

Author Website

Participants’ links  -

Julie Bihn
Jennifer Bogart 
Keanan Brand
Beckie Burnham
Pauline Creeden
Vicky DealSharingAunt
Carol Gehringer
Victor Gentile
Rebekah Gyger
Nikole Hahn
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Emileigh Latham
Rebekah Loper
Jennette Mbewe
Amber McCallister
Shannon McDermott
Shannon McNear
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Nissa Faye Oygard
Writer Rani
Nathan Reimer
Jojo Sutis
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Shane Werlinger
Phyllis Wheeler

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Promise In Pieces by Emily T. Wierenga (Quilts Of Love #17)

A Promise In Pieces is gut wrenching. This story was pulled from the lives of real people, and then mixed with fiction where needed.  This book is serious, traumatic, dramatic, and both sad and sweet at the same time.

Two girls run away from their homes to be war nurses. Claire, and her only friend Eva. Clarie is a Pastor's daughter, and she has been raised with plenty of restrictions. Her bold move to run away and join the war effort is in direct defiance of her Father's stance of  no involvement in the war because it isn't Christ like in his mind. She has been disowned by her family.

After some difficult basic training, Claire and Eva wind up overseas, tending the wounded as they die. That alone would have been life altering enough, but Claire winds up unable to save a true Christ like man, who has her write a letter to her beloved wife, Mattie, and Claire promises to deliver it to her. Once the war was over, and everyone thoroughly traumatized, Claire has to decide where to go next. She could have mailed it, and the bible it was written in, but instead she goes in person. This too becomes another life changing moment for Claire. Finding a modicum of forgiveness upon returning home, Claire becomes a "midwife" and in the process the quilt handed to her by Mattie takes on a whole new life, calling and meaning.

An entire second plot is in progress during this book as well.

Carol :)

This week, the

is introducing

Abingdon Press (April 15, 2014)



A Word from the Author:

I’m Emily, and I’m honored and humbled to meet you, friend.

We’re all stumbling along on this journey and you can approach me about anything okay? I’m an open book, with dog-eared pages and a worn cover.

I’m mama to two boys, ages two and four, and married to a farm-boy-turned-math-teacher. We live in a small Dutch hamlet with three churches, one Co-Op and no stop lights. There are a lot of fields out here, there’s a lot of space and sky for breathing and running and writing.

We foster two boys in addition to our own two, and before I had kids, I took care of my Mum who had brain cancer. She fought back and has recovered, all glory to God, and my pastor-father still holds her hand while they go for daily walks.

I battled anorexia nervosa as a child, and then again as a newly married woman, and I write a lot about body image now and have a passion for women to learn to love themselves.

My husband and I have battled infertility and are currently trying to adopt our third child through the local Alberta government.

I hurt for the church, and believe in it, and pray for it, as I’ve grown up inside its walls and have heard its groanings.

I have a heart for Africa, particularly Uganda, and went there in January on a bloggers’ trip with World Help.

My favorite things to do are read literary novels, play guitar, snowboard, paint with oil and acrylics and hug my babies.

I am the author of two books on eating disorders, a novel releasing this spring, and a memoir coming out this summer.

I hope you’ll connect with me on FB:, or if you prefer, Twitter: @emily_wierenga. I’d love to have a virtual glass of wine, or cup of coffee, with you.

Peace to you friends,


After the end of World War II, Clara Kirkpatrick returns from the Women’s Army Corp to deliver a dying soldier’s last wishes: convey his love to his young widow, Mattie, with apologies for the missed life they had planned to share.

Struggling with her own post-war trauma, Clara thinks she’s not prepared to handle the grief of this broken family. Yet upon meeting Mattie, and receiving a baby quilt that will never cuddle the soldier’s baby, Clara vows to honor the sacrifices that family made.

Now a labor and delivery nurse in her rural hometown, Clara wraps each new babe in the gifted quilt and later stitches the child’s name into the cloth. As each new child is welcomed by the quilt, Clara begins to wonder whatever happened to Mattie—and if her own life would ever experience the love of a newborn. Little does she know that she will have the opportunity to re-gift the special quilt—years later and carrying even greater significance than when it was first bestowed.

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Promise in Pieces, go HERE.

The book link is:

Friday, April 18, 2014

Lip Reading by Harry Kraus

This is my third book by Harry Kraus. I have read An Open Heart and A Heartbeat Away
Lip Reading surpassed them both in ease of reading and instantly gripping my attention. Becca is a Dr. She is working in her family's pharmaceutical business. She is visiting Africa when she is kidnapped, taken to a village, and forced to talk with each woman who has lost a child due the HIV medication that her family's company created. After being released in exchange for compensation for the village where this tragically occurred, Becca finds herself suddenly able to solve completed problems. Problems like Rubik Cubes, and now she can see some of the folds that are needed in the cell model to make her new blood replacement work. How can such a sudden gift be possible, and what is causing her horrible horrible migraines?

To complicate things even more, Noah is Becca's high-school sweetheart. Here he is, 20 years later, and his company wants him to hire Rebecca over into their company. To collaborate his work on blood replacement with hers and save countless lives. No more blood typing or waiting for a transfusion. This is a major break through if he can get Becca to leave her Uncle's company. Things aren't simple though. Becca and Noah both have un-dealt with feelings from some major things that happened back in high school. Back when Rebecca was the brainiac that didn't know she was pretty, and Noah the ball playing jock who's dad is was a lowly janitor. Something happened back then, something secrete and Noah went to jail for it. He has had a hard time getting over taking the fall for a woman who never looked back, or did she?

Nothing here is as it seems, and to farther complicate matters, Mel is still crushing on Noah. She has always been fond of him, but his heart has always been tied to Rebecca. Is it going to stay that way? Is she behind the threats that have started coming out or someone higher up?

Lip Reading is a really good page turner with in-depth characters, and big issues. Of the three books I have ready by this author, this one is my favorite so far!

Carol :)

This week, the

is introducing

David C. Cook (March 1, 2014)



A Word from Harry:

I started writing my first novel during my last year of surgery training at UK. I was a chief resident, and started writing Stainless Steal Hearts in a call room at the Veteran's Administration Hospital in Lexington. It was a crazy time to write! I had a very demanding schedule, often spending days and nights in the hospital. I had two sons at that time, and I recognized the wisdom in my wife's urging: "Now doesn't seem the right time for this dream."

My experience as a writer is far from typical. Having received my formal training in biology and chemistry and medicine, my only preparation for a writing career was a love for reading. The longest thing I'd written before my first novel was a term paper in undergraduate school. My first novel was accepted by Crossway Books and published in 1994, and it wasn't until after I had FOUR published novels that I even opened a book of instruction about the craft of writing fiction. This is not what I recommend to others! Yes, I was successful, but I was bending the "rules" without knowing it. I had a natural talent for plotting, but I realize my initial success may have stunted my growth as a writer. I'd have made faster progress if I'd have gone to the fiction teachers sooner.

I have three sons: Joel, Evan, and Samuel. Look closely in all of my books and you'll see them there. My lovely wife, Kris, provides the basic composition for all those beautiful, athletic, dedicated women in my novels.


She Could Save Millions, or Save Herself

She just needs a little longer. She’s really close. Dr. Rebecca Jackson, a medical researcher, stands on the verge of a breakthrough that will transform medicine. But she soon discovers the reason behind the miraculous progress in her research, and it leaves her with a nearly impossible choice . . . and little time to decide. More than her research is at stake. And more threatens it than this latest revelation. Something she’s tried hard to cover up. There is a high cost to some things in medicine and it’s not always the patient who pays. Can Rebecca find the faith and wisdom she needs to make the right call? The clock is ticking and the pressure is on.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Lip Reading, go HERE.

Harry can be reached through the Contact link on his Website 

The book link is: 

Monday, April 14, 2014

MORE fun things about A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander!

Hi All!

Today I have MORE than one fun thing and yes, I am still chattering away about A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander! Today I bring you a bit about the DRESS, folks it is real! I also have a link for you to check out a REALLY GOOD post on Tamera's own blog. (Ahhh!)

Are you about ready for my review???
I am almost ready to launch it for you!
Carol :)

Tamera's really good blog post....

YES! This dress in THAT photo! Check this out!

Meet the Woman Behind the Cover Dress
by Tamera Alexander

Dear friends,

Have you ever wanted to meet the woman who sewed the dress on a novel cover? Then please allow me to introduce you to Beth Schoenherr, the ever-so-talented seamstress who sewed Eleanor Braddocks dress for the cover of A Beauty So Rare.

Im thrilled that Beth was willing to share about her experience in making the dress, and I love the behind-the-scenes glimpses she shares. I hope you will, too!

Tamera: Where did inspiration for the dress for A Beauty So Rare come from (both the style and color)?

Beth: The style, of course, was determined by the post–Civil War timing of the story.

I believe the cover designer and editors talked about a garden setting and felt pink would look lovely against the backdrop of the green foliage and other flowers, which it does! I then had the fun of finding the right shade of pink to keep it a believable color for the time. Hot pink or neon pink, of course, would never do!

Tamera: Um, no. LOL! Not even Adelicia Acklen could have coerced Eleanor into neon pink! ; )

Tamera: Have you made dresses for photo shoots before?

Beth:I started doing period costumes for men, women, and children in amateur theater in 1999 and then had opportunities in the following years to progress to working in the costume shop of a professional theater. This is my first costume for a photo shoot, however.

Tamera: How cool, Beth. I’m so grateful for your work on this dress. Well done!

Tamera: Do you have an appreciation for period clothing? And if yes, what’s your favorite style of women’s dresses from history?

Beth:I do enjoy period clothing. I don’t think I can pick one favorite style though. I just enjoy the various and changing silhouettes and fabrics throughout the history of fashion.

Tamera: Understandable. I have many "favorites," too!

Tamera: What’s the most challenging dress you’ve created for a cover (and what was most challenging about it)? Also, what has been your most challenging sewing project in general?

Beth: As I mentioned, this is the first dress I have made for a cover. It has been really fun and exciting to create this dress from scratch and then see it on the cover of this book. A new experience I had when making this dress was the cartridge pleats at the back of the skirt. The pattern called for the front and side pieces of the skirt to be pleated to fit into the waistband and left only a five-inch opening in the back of the waistband. Then I had to fit the 50-inch-wide piece of fabric for the back part of the skirt into that five-inch opening. I thought, “There is no way I’m going to get that much fabric into that little space.” But the cartridge pleats worked fabulously at neatly pleating 50” down to 5”.

The most challenging costume I worked on was a waistcoat designed and then cut out by someone else and given to me to sew. Not a single piece matched up in size to its coordinating piece. There was no extra fabric to work with so I had to just rework the pieces I had while making sure the finished garment would still fit the actor it was designed for. Definitely a “make it work” project!

Finally, probably the most thrilling dress I got to make was the first complete dress for a play at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. Many of my costumes prior to that had to be remakes of existing dresses or costumes due to tight budgets. But I was graciously given the opportunity to sew, from start to finish, the schoolteacher dress in Little House on the Prairie: The Musical, which premiered at the Guthrie and then went on to tour nationally. It was so exciting to see the professionally-designed dress come together step-by-step and then to see it on stage.

Tamera: Wow, Beth, I bet that was a rewarding experience with Little House on the Prairie: the Musical. Congratulations! I’ve always admired people who know how to sew, and sew well!

Thank you for sharing your talent and time with us––and with the cover of my latest novel.


For more "behind the scenes" glimpses from the photo shoot for A Beauty So Rare,visit Tamera's blog.

What Follows After by Dan Walsh

Meet the Harrisons. Gina, Scott, and their two sons, Colt who is 11, and Timmy who is 6 years old. One family who decided to pretend. They decided to pretend they weren't falling apart to save face in the wake of a relationship on the rocks.  In a time when divorce was less common, it was a shame to say you were separated or divorced, so they hid it. Colt and Timmy played along, what else were they do to? Now, they are paying the price because of their broken relationship. Colt and Timmy are missing, and the world is headed for a war. How do you find missing little boys while the President decides if nukes should be deployed or not? What follows after secrets and lies are exposed? What follows after your children are missing, your marriage broken, your job, your life, and indeed the entire country is practically laid open for all to see? 

I have read several of Dan Walsh's books. This is the best one so far. A moving read about misconceptions, getting to really know the folks around you, forgiveness and healing. If you decide to skip all the rest of his books, I would recommend that you at least read this one. 


What Follows After

Read the First Chapter

In 1962, life was simple, the world made sense, and all families were happy. And when they weren't, everyone knew you were supposed to pretend.
With their family about to collapse, Colt Harrison and his little brother, Timmy, hatched a plan. They would run away from their Florida home, head for their aunt’s house in Savannah, Georgia, and refuse to come home until their parents got back together. But things go terribly, terribly wrong. Colt’s mother and father must come to grips with years of neglect and mistrust in order to recover their sons, their love for one another, and their broken marriage.
In this emotional story set against the backdrop of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Dan Walsh takes readers on a journey to rediscover the things that matter most in life–love, truth, and family.
- See more at:

The book link:

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Hungry? Shortbread with Tamera Alexander time! :) (A Beauty So Rare)

Oh Dear Readers,

Tamera Alexander is spoiling us! :) Our lovely heroine from A Beauty So Rare makes shortbread. That is properly cooked in an iron skillet as all of the other Southern ladies I know and love use. What would we do with out our iron skillets?!?! I don't want to find out, but I do want to make this recipe too. It is a bit different than what I grew up with. Stay tuned because my book review of A Beauty So Rare will be forthcoming and you DO NOT want to miss it! 

Carol :) 

Is there anything that smells as good as homemade shortbread baking in your oven? Oh so scrumptious, and a time-honored recipe. Shortbread is just one of the many recipes included in A Beauty So Rare, the second stand-alone novel in the Belmont Mansion series.

Since Eleanor Braddock (the heroine in A Beauty So Rare) is practical to a fault, she makes her shortbread in a cast-iron skillet, so I did the same. Gives you the best crunchy edges and buttery middles! Wish I could share some with you. But I'll do the next best thing––share the recipe!

Have you ever made shortbread? It's so easy.

Eleanor Braddock's Shortbread
(from A Beauty So Rare)

3/4 cup butter at room temp (1 1/2 sticks)
1/2 cup powdered sugar*
1/3 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour (sifted)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees, then spray a smaller (8-9 inch) cast-iron skillet very lightly with non-stick cooking spray. You don't need that much spray. Trust me, the butter in the recipe will take care of that.

Cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar, then the vanilla. Next, work in the flour. You can either mix the flour in with an electric mixer, or you can get into the 1860s way of doing things and knead the dough on a floured surface until it's nice and smooth.

Press the dough into the iron skillet (or you can use a pretty shortbread pan too). Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown. Cool for about 10-15 minutes then flip the pan over onto a wooden cutting board. Cut the shortbread into pieces while still warm. It "sets up" as it cools. Or serve it warm. Serves 10-12. And it really does. This stuff is rich and delicious. Hope you enjoy. 

And just for fun, a bit of history:
*Did you know that in 1851, Oliver Chase (of NECCO Wafer fame) developed a mill for powdering sugar which he used in his candy making process? But if a cook wanted powdered sugar back then, refined loaf sugar was pounded into a fine powder in a mortar and pestle. So much easier today, huh?

For more recipes and to watch the novel trailer

for A Beauty So Rare, visit

10 Authors - One Big Giveaway! Tamara Alexander's new book is included!

Seriously! How could I not share this in case someone that isn't me gets to win?
I'd be happy for them of course! So check out this free give-a-way before it expires, the link
to enter is below.

Carol :)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tamera Alexander & Recipes! How Exciting! :)

Hi Everyone!

My review for this book will be here in a few days, but first I want to share a recipe with you!
Check this out!!!  Consider this post the prequel to my book review. :)

Quiche! I LOVE this stuff! Seriously I do. I have since I was a child. :)
Please TRY to not drool on your keyboard, phone, tablet or iPad device when you see this.

Eleanor Braddocks Savory Custard
(or Ham and Cheddar Quiche)
From the novel A Beauty So Rare
by Tamera Alexander

Most people think quiche originated in France. Not so. Its originally a German dish and people referred to them as "savory custards" in the 19th century. Which is accurate since the egg-based mixture forms a luscious-like custard as it bakes.

In my novel, A Beauty So Rare, the second standalone novel in the Belmont Mansion series, the heroine, Eleanor Braddock, is "a cook with a dream." But her dreams dont quite turn out like she thinks they will. However, her savories always do!

I hope you enjoy this recipe (or "receipt" as recipes were called in the 1800s) from A Beauty So Rare. For more about A Beauty So Rare and for recipes from all my novels, visit

1 old-fashioned unbaked pie crust (recipe below)
1 large onion,diced (or sliced if you like larger pieces of onion in your savory)
2 tablespoonsbutter
1 pound cooked ham diced into cubes (if using bacon, use 8 slices, fried chewy, not too crisp)
8 large eggs
1-1/2 cupsheavy cream or half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, or to taste (I always go heavier on the pepper, personal preference)
1 3/4 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Sautéonion in the butter in a skillet over medium-low heat for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is golden brown. Set aside to cool.

Chop the ham into bite-sized pieces (or fry your bacon until chewy, then chop). Set aside to cool. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Roll out pie crust and press into a deep dish pie plate. A medium-sized iron skillet works wonderfully for making a savory custard (and is what Eleanor used). The crust comes out divine. I just happened to use a pie plate this time.

Whip the eggs, cream, salt and pepper in a large bowl, then mix in the onions, ham (or bacon), and cheese. Pour the mixture into the pie crust. Cover the pie plate (or skillet) lightly with aluminum foil and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the quiche is set and the crust is golden brown. QUICK BAKING TIPS: The quiche may still seem a little loose when you first remove it from the oven, but it will firm up nicely once removed from the heat. Also, watch that lovely crust so the edges dont get overly brown. I use a silicone pie crust shield if that starts to happen. Those are a fabulous invention (but foil crimped around the edges works just as well).

Remove from the oven and allow the savory custard torest for 10 to 15 minutes before diving in. Its so good, and just like Eleanor Braddock would make. Its also delicious left over and warmed up the next day.

Eleanor Braddocks Old-Fashioned Pie Crust
(makes two large crusts)
From the novel A Beauty So Rare
by Tamera Alexander

This is a wonderful crust that Ive been using for years. Eleanor would likely have used lard in place of Crisco (since lard was cheaper than butter in her day), and you may too, if you prefer. Yes, lard is still available on most grocery shelves, although Im pretty sure I just felt you shudder!

This pie crust "freezes beautifully " as they say in Steel Magnolias (instructions on freezing below), so even though I may need only one pie crust at the moment, I always use this recipe and make a second, and freeze it for later. Makes that next pie (or savory custard) go twice as fast!

1 ½cups Crisco (or lard)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg
5 tablespoons ice water
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, using a pastry cutter (or two knives will do the job), gradually work the Crisco into the flour for 3 to 4 minutes until it resembles coarse meal. In a smaller bowl, whipthe egg and then pour it into the flour/shortening mixture. Add 5 tablespoons of ice-cold water, 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir gently until all ingredients are blended well.

Halve the dough. Form 2 evenly-sized balls of dough and place each into large sealable plastic bags. Using a rolling pin, slightly flatten each to about 1/2 inch thickness to make rolling easier later. Seal the bags and place them in the freezer until you need them. (If youre using the crusts immediately, its still a good idea to let them chill in the freezer for about 15- 20 minutes. Theyll be much easier to work with.)

When youre ready to roll the dough for your crust, remove from the freezer and allow to thaw for 15 minutes (if its frozen). On a well-floured surface, roll the dough, starting at the center and working your way out. Sprinkle flour over the top of the dough if its too moist. If the dough starts to stick to the countertop, use a metal spatula and gently scrape it up and flip it over and continue rolling until its about ½inch larger in diameter than your pie plate (or iron skillet).

Using a spatula, carefully lift the dough from the surface of the counter into the pie pan. (I sometimes fold my well-floured dough in half and then "unfold" it onto iron skillet. Or you can lop it over your rolling pin. That works well, too.) Gently press the dough against the sides of the pan or skillet, getting it all tucked in. Then crimp the edges in whatever way you prefer. And now, youre ready for that yummy savory custard filling above, or maybe for a fruit pie.

If you make this recipe (or if youve read A Beauty So Rare), Id love to hear from you. You can write me through my website at

Sincerely Yours: A Novella Collection by Laurie Alice Eakes, Ann Shorey, Amanda Cabot, and Jane Kirkpatrick

Sincerely Yours is written by four authors. Each one gives us a story that ties into a letter, or letters.
Each story is very good! I do have my favorite, but I enjoyed them all.

In Moonlight Promise our first lovely lady winds up jumping aboard a moving steam boat in a bold effort to get where she is going before time runs out. Her livelihood is at stake, and she didn't plan on being attracted to the ship's captain. He didn't plan on having a passenger, much less a female one at that! They both have some major life issues besetting them at this time, can they survive the passage and come out where God wants them to be? Will the thin threads of Faith they cling told pull them through?

In Lessons In Love we have a very advanced lady for her time frame. She is publishing! (Imagine that!) It is still a forward move for a woman in that era. When her editor decides he must meet with her there is a major obstacle. Her editor assumed that she is a male writer and now she must either prevail upon someone for help, or watch her dreams vanish. A touchy decisions since she is mainly writing about how Godly Christian wives are to behave and the rolls they play in their families and husband's lives.

Ahhh! One Little Word! This story was my favorite. I do like the others very much, they are worth reading, but this one got my heart! :) Lorraine M. Caldwell is going to visit her brother, who is alive! He wrote her and specifically requested she come to his wedding. A wedding to someone that has raised more than a few eyebrows. Upon reaching Lilac Hall she finds much more than she ever envisioned. Soon she finds herself very drawn to Jonah Mann. He is in the process of making a carousal and Lorriane is captivated with the carousal, and with Jonah. Neither of them are exactly what they seem though. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and I have to say, I have long loved carousels and probably have a healthy dose of the "malady" that Amanda Cabot has in this area.

A Saving Grace is aptly named. I struggled at first with the front part of this story, but soon got into following it better once our dear brave Grace started finding out that her friend Rebecca has put herself into a place called Starvation Heights. While that is shocking, it is even more so when you consider that some women today still go to such drastic measures to get well, or be fit, or be skinny enough. Rebecca is in serious trouble and Grace has only one ally as she signs up to be a patient at Starvation Heights in order to learn more about what is going on, and to save Rebecca who's sweet young daughter is waiting for her Mommy to come home. Will Grace be able to save Rebecca, or even her self in time, or will they waist away and perish while trying to be healthier? This short story was very riveting because of the way that these women were treated. Turns out that this place was real, and the history behind it is so graciously given at the end of this novella.

Below is more about the book, and the stories, and the cover! I'm glad I was able to review this book for Revell in exchange for my honest review, and nothing else.

Carol :)

Four unexpected letters. Four intrepid women. Four lives changed forever.

Spanning a century and a continent, these romantic novellas will lead you on a journey through the landscape of love. Four young women find their lives altered after each receives a letter that sets her on a new path. From a Hudson River steamboat to a lush drawing room, from a carousel carver's workshop to a remote hospital, you'll be swept into the lives of women who are making their way in the world and finding love where they least expect it.

Moonlight Promise by Laurie Alice Eakes
Camilla Renfrew is a highborn English lady fleeing false accusations when she runs smack into love on a steamboat bound for the new Erie Canal. But can this unexpected attraction survive the treacherous journey?

Lessons in Love by Ann Shorey
Marigold Montgomery Bentley writes marriage advice forKipler's Home Weekly even though she is single.Everyone assumes from the initials that "M. M." is a man. When the editor asks to meet Mr. Bentley, can Merrie come up with a ruse to keep her writing job?

One Little Word by Amanda Cabot
Lorraine Caldwell will lose her family fortune to a reckless cousin if she doesn't marry quickly. When she learns her long-lost brother is alive, she hopes she's found the answer to her problems. What she finds instead is a mysterious carousel carver who turns her life upside down.

A Saving Grace by Jane Kirkpatrick
Grace Hathaway must rescue a dear friend from a remote and notorious clinic that promises healing but delivers only heartache. In a place laced with deceit, where lives hang in the balance, whom can she trust to help her?